$240 Million Proposed Settlement Reached in USC Gynecologist Sexual Abuse Class Action

10/19/2018

LOS ANGELES – Today, hundreds of current and former students of the University of Southern California reached a $240 million proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the university and its former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, for his alleged decades-long sexual abuse of his patients that persisted despite USC’s knowledge, according to Hagens Berman.

The class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California details sexual abuse and violations of Dr. Tyndall, who subjected his patients to inappropriate touching, unnecessary penetration with his hands, lewd comments, photographing, and other acts of sexual harassment. The university knew of his behavior since at least the 1990s, according to the complaint.

“Many of the hundreds of women who have stepped forward to speak up about what happened to them at USC felt powerless against the university and Dr. Tyndall. This proposed settlement not only brings meaningful relief to this class of USC graduates and students, but stands as a testament both to the strength of these women, coming forward to tell their truth, and to the ability of class actions to create real positive impact for those who have suffered,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing the class of USC alumnae. “We are pleased that this proposed settlement will bring meaningful recovery to this class of women, without intensive litigation and discovery directed at the victims, and provides a relatively simple process to have their cases evaluated by a Special Master.”

Hagens Berman’s client, Meggie Kwait issued the following statement regarding the proposed settlement: “Over the course of this lawsuit, I heard the stories of hundreds of other USC students and alumnae who experienced violation, humiliation, and abuse. We were trapped in a system that robbed us of our safety, our dignity, and even our voices – in the very place that should have been teaching us to stand and speak our truth. This settlement is for me, my classmates, my mentors, my students, and for all my sisters in the Trojan family. In isolation, I felt powerless. With this class action, and with the #MeToo movement, I found my strength – and my voice.”


Ms. Kwait is 31 years old and an educator in New York. She currently teaches middle school in a New York City private school, and she is pursuing a master's degree in international relations. In her lifetime, she’s worked as a professional singer, served as a member of the clergy in three countries, and taught in public and private schools in both English and Spanish. Meggie has degrees in British history and opera performance, and she studied at a top 10 law school and in a prestigious rabbinical school before redirecting her path toward education.

Under the stipulations of the proposed settlement, there exist three tiers of claims available to class members:

  • Tier 1: Each Settlement Class member, who can be identified through existing health center records, or who submits credible evidence of being a patient of Dr. Tyndall at the USC student health center for the period from July 14, 1997 through June 21, 2016, will be mailed a Claim Award in the form of a check for $2,500.
  • Tier 2: Each Settlement Class member has the option to submit an online or written claim form (the “Claim Form”) describing her experience, the impact to her, and/or the damages she suffered. That Claim Form will be reviewed by a Court-appointed Special Master. If the Special Master determines that the Claim Form is credible, and that the conduct or statement(s) described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or that the conduct or statements are determined to otherwise be actionable, the claimant shall receive a Claim Award of no less than $7,500 and up to no more than $20,000.
  • Tier 3: Tier 3 is reserved for those Settlement Class members who desire to provide further evidence of conduct by or statement(s) from Dr. Tyndall and their impact. Each Settlement Class member who submits a Tier 3 claim will be interviewed by a forensic psychologist, or her team, or other experts, regarding the Settlement Class member’s experience and its impact on her. The expert will provide an assessment to the Special Master. Based on all information, the Special Master will determine whether the Claim Form is credible, the conduct or statement(s) described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or the conduct or statements were otherwise actionable, and based on an assessment of the emotional distress and/or bodily injury to the claimant, the Special Master will recommend a Claim Award of no less than $7,500 and no more than $250,000.

Read more about Hagens Berman’s sexual harassment and abuse practice area and cases.

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 10 offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at https://www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

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04/18/19: Case Update

In light of Judge Wilson's order issued on Apr. 28, 2019, Hagens Berman's Steve Berman stated, "We appreciate Judge Wilson's careful scrutiny of this landmark settlement, and look forward to resolving his concerns. As is stated in the order, 'The Court takes no issue with the substantive terms of settlement between Plaintiffs and Defendants, and the Court believes that the proposed settlement, as is, ultimately may be fair and reasonable under the prevailing standards.'

"This settlement gives every single woman who saw Tyndall a choice in how they want to participate and hold USC accountable, while also forcing the school to change to ensure this doesn't happen again. We are confident our renewed motion for preliminary approval will address the Court’s concerns, lead to approval of this agreement, and provide these survivors the relief and measure of closure they deserve."

Read the order here »

02/14/19: Case Update

USC students and alumna have filed a class-Action settlement resolving claims related to gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D. that will require USC to adopt and implement procedures for identification, prevention and reporting of sexual and racial misconduct, as well as to recognize all of Tyndall’s patients through a $215 million fund that gives every survivor a choice in how to participate. The settlement is subject to court approval.

The settlement’s three-tier structure allows class members to choose how much they want to engage with the claims process. Those who do not want to revisit a private, traumatic event can simply keep the guaranteed Tier 1 payment of $2,500. Those who choose to provide additional information in a claim form about their experience with Tyndall and how it affected them are eligible for up to $20,000 and those who choose to provide an interview are eligible for up to $250,000. The special master and her team of experts will evaluate claims and allocate awards to Tier 2 and Tier 3 claimants. This focus on choice ensures that all class members receive compensation while giving each class member the autonomy to decide for herself how involved she wants to be in the settlement process.

Payment for each class member will be determined as follows:

Tier 1: Every class member is eligible for a Tier 1 payment of $2,500, simply by virtue of being a Class member. The Tier 1 payment is simply a guaranteed minimum payment; all class members are also eligible to make claims for Tier 2 or Tier 3 payments. Under no circumstances will a class member be required to return a Tier 1 payment.

Due to limitations in USC’s records, class members will receive their Tier 1 payments in one of two ways:

(i) Those class members identified through USC’s existing health center records (which cover the majority of the class period), will be automatically mailed a Tier 1 payment check for $2,500 once the settlement is final. Class members will be notified if they have been pre-identified as class members through USC’s records.

ii) Those class members who cannot be identified through USC’s records must submit (online or by mail) a simple signed Statement of class membership Form. The claims administrator will then confirm student status or, for non-students, evaluate the claimant’s evidence of Class membership. Tier 1 payments of $2,500 will be sent upon confirmation of class membership.

Tier 2: Each class member has the option to submit an online or written claim form describing her experience with Tyndall, the impact on her, and the harm she suffered. The special master’s team will assess each claim form, and if determined credible, and that the conduct or statements described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or that the conduct or statements are otherwise actionable, the special master will award a Tier 2 payment between $7,500 and $20,000.

Tier 3: Tier 3 is for class members who, in addition to the written claim form, are willing to provide information about their experience and its impact in an interview by the special master’s team. That team will assess each claim form and interview, and if determined credible, and that the conduct or statements described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or that the conduct or statements are otherwise actionable, the special master will award a Tier 3 payment between $7,500 and $250,000, subject to pro rata adjustments.

Some key features are:

  • Accountability: Defendants will pay a total sum of $215 million to the class, net of attorneys’ fees and costs. USC will implement institutional changes to protect students and prevent abuse. These changes were developed by leading experts in the field, and include policy and procedure changes at the USC Student Health Center; appointment of an independent women’s health advocate; and convention of a task force—including an independent expert specializing in university best practices related to prevention and response to sexual assault and misconduct—to recommend university-wide changes to prevent sexual violence on campus.
  • Immediacy and Certainty: Providing compensation to class members should not take years of risky and re-traumatizing litigation. The settlement offers guaranteed relief to victims far more quickly than protracted litigation with its uncertain results.
  • Choice and Sensitivity: The settlement’s three-tier claims structure allows class members to choose whether and in how much detail they wish to tell their story. Tier 1 is for those who do not wish to engage; every class member is eligible for a guaranteed minimum $2,500 payment, no questions asked. Those payments will be automatically sent to all known class members; any other class member need only submit a simple statement of class membership to claim her Tier 1 payment. In addition to the guaranteed minimum, every class member is eligible to make a claim for up to $250,000. Those who wish to tell their story in writing on a simple claim form are eligible for up to $20,000 (Tier 2). And those who choose to further engage by providing an interview are eligible for up to $250,000 (Tier 3). All Tier 2 and 3 claims will be evaluated by a court-appointed independent special master who will also make all allocation decisions.
  • Simplicity: The Settlement’s claims process is simple by design—no action for Tier 1, simple claim form for Tier 2, simple claim form and interview for Tier 3. This is to make the process easier and more comfortable for victims, and to ensure they can complete it without having to hire an attorney. To the extent any Class member wants help navigating even this simple process, Interim class counsel stand prepared to provide all necessary assistance, without reducing class members’ compensation by taking any attorneys’ fees or costs out of it.
  • Privacy: The settlement structure and process is designed to provide a safe, private place for victims to tell their stories—to the extent and in the way they choose—and get compensation for the harms they suffered without having to go through invasive, adversarial, public, slow and risky litigation.

11/08/18: CASE UPDATE

On October 19, 2018, hundreds of current and former students of the University of Southern California reached a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the university and Dr. George Tyndall for his alleged decades-long sexual abuse of patients that persisted despite USC’s knowledge.  The settlement provides for a $215 million common fund.

10/19/18:

$240 Million Proposed Settlement Reached in USC Gynecologist Sexual Abuse Class Action

Today, hundreds of current and former students of the University of Southern California reached a $240 million proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the university and its former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, for his alleged decades-long sexual abuse of his patients that persisted despite USC’s knowledge, according to Hagens Berman. Read the press release »

10/04/18: Case Update

Hundreds of you have already come forward to speak your truth about the unacceptable behavior and abuse from USC's Dr. George Tyndall. Today, another woman has chosen to tell the world about the horrendous reality that women can and are abused by the people they entrust with their healthcare - their own family doctors and gynecologists. Renown journalist Connie Chung has bravely stepped into the spotlight to share her recollections and the aftermath of the assault she suffered. Read or listen here (content warning: sexual assault).

At Hagens Berman, we are fighting to make the world a safer place for women, both to come forward in safety and strength to speak about abuse, and to stop it from happening in the first place. Our attorneys welcome you to join our fight.

09/28/18: Firm Statement

At Hagens Berman, we believe no one is above the law, and that no position of power should shield someone from being held accountable.

Right now, we are witnessing the silencing, belittling and abuse that women everywhere in this nation are subjected to. They are subjected to a system that does not respect them. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s continued nomination to the Supreme Court, and the backlash against the brave survivors who have stepped forward to report sexual assault, are both unacceptable.

We believe survivors. Our firm’s sexual harassment attorneys have protected their rights for decades throughout their legal careers, and we are dedicated to upholding the rights of the most vulnerable. Women should be heard, respected and protected from systemic abuse.

08/27/18: Anonymity & Your Protection

Please note: Your protection is our firm's top priority. If you wish to remain anonymous in your potential case, Hagens Berman will request that the Court permit you to proceed anonymously as a Jane Doe. Remaining anonymous in filing your case will allow you to avoid the spotlight.

Our attorneys have experience in protecting plaintiffs who wish to remain anonymous, both as whistleblowers and as survivors of sexual misconduct.

08/27/18: Consolidated Complaint Filed

On Aug. 27, 2018, Hagens Berman, on behalf of the plaintiffs' executive committee filed a 141-page consolidated class-action complaint in order to streamline the lawsuit. The consolidated case for In Re: USC Student Health Center Litigation includes 51 total plaintiffs and an expanded fact section. This filing combines all of the firm’s previous filings, as well as those of other firms named to the suit’s leadership committee. This will be the operative complaint for the class action in federal court.

Read the consolidated complaint »

08/14/18: Cases Consolidated & Leadership Appointed

On Aug. 14, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson selected Hagens Berman to chair the committee prosecuting the lawsuit.

On June 22, 2018, the firm submitted documents proposing that the court consolidate the many filed cases against USC and Dr. Tyndall, in order to streamline the lawsuit. In consolidating class-action cases, the court routinely appoints leadership positions. Hagens Berman will be in charge of prosecuting the case on behalf of the class in federal court and will lead the court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee consisting of Hagens Berman and two other prominent firms. read more »